Global health experts launch new medical training framework to improve care for refugees and migrants - University Affairs

Global health experts launch new medical training framework to improve care for refugees and migrants – University Affairs

The new framework advises medical school teachers to develop a global health curriculum that focuses on intercultural competencies and a patient-centered approach.

In the early 2000s, Kevin Botti was a physician working in Canada and around the world with people displaced by conflict, famine, and persecution. But at times, Dr. Botti worried that the burdensome amount of medical examinations he and his colleagues were required to perform was undermining the care these refugees received.

Dr. Putti recalls that tropical medicine guidelines “assumed that if the disease was in the Congo, we should examine it.” That is, doctors were asking refugees for dozens of stool and blood samples at a time when they were navigating through new school and health systems, transit systems, not to mention a new culture.

Two decades later, the physician-researcher is on a mission to help the next generation of physicians deliver thoughtful, evidence-based care to newcomers.

Dr. Botti, who now holds the Ian McQueeni Chair in Family Medicine Studies at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, is one of the authors of a recent article suggesting that ditching medical school curricula around a “more is better” approach to refugee health is one-to-one care that prioritizes the social economy. Intercultural communication and patient experience.

work is a product Canadian Collaboration of Immigrant and Refugee Health Network (CCIRHN), a group co-founded by Dr. Botti and Douglas Gruner, a family physician and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa who previously worked with refugees in East Timor in the 1990s. In 2005, CCIRHN launched its first Community Service Education course for medical students at the University of Ottawa, which combined classroom teaching with real-world experience in organizations serving immigrant populations. In 2012, they developed an online global health course, which has been accessed by individuals and organizations around the world. The group also helps start community service learning programs at other institutions by providing resources for instructors as well as online counseling and learning modules for medical students. This work is inspired Article Posted in BMC Medical Education In May this year, which shows how to align refugee health training with existing competencies required by national and regional agencies.

Queen’s University resident family physician Victoire Kabaddi brought the community service learning program to McGill University when she was a medical student there in 2018. Dr. Kabaddi, along with her co-chair and six other students, gave workshops for refugees and newcomers on mobility in healthcare system, and helped newcomers translate and summarize their past health history into a ‘health passport’.

It is the kind of interest in intercultural communication that the framework of the new curriculum emphasizes. Training modules advise healthcare professionals to prepare interpreters ahead of time so that the patient can communicate comfortably in their own language, and so that the task of translation does not fall on the shoulders of younger family members. “People may seem to understand, but there are aspects they may not,” said Dr. Kpadé, without translation services. At McGill, the focus on native language service meant that by the time medical students were working in the community, “they were more sensitive to the importance of really being able to reach someone in their native language,” she said.

Ammar Saad is the Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Ottawa. He came to Canada in 2017 from Syria, where he was a medical student at Damascus University. He helped design the CCIRHN’s curriculum framework while working towards a master’s degree in epidemiology at the University of Ottawa School of Medicine. “This lived experience has brought from the journey of many newcomers and refugees I have worked with over the years,” he said. Mr. Saad anticipates that the curriculum framework will enable the trainee physicians to seek opportunities to care for vulnerable populations.

“A lot of medical students are very eager to work with this population…but at the same time, there is this level of fear. This is a very vulnerable population with a lot of health and social disparities that may overwhelm medical students.” in alleviating some of these concerns.


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